An IPU human rights team to the Maldives has begun a three-day mission to tackle cases on the human rights abuses of MPs as political tension and fears rise in the country.
With growing concern over increasing reports of political intimidation, political unrest and continuous violence in the Maldives, the mission from 20-22 November, will gather information first-hand through meetings with concerned MPs.
The three-member team, including Philippine Senator Pangilinan from IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and IPU’s Human Rights programme head, will have several high-level meetings at the invitation of the government. These include talks with President Waheed, government ministers, the Speaker of the national parliament and other high-level parliamentary and judicial authorities.
Currently 19 Maldivian MPs from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have lodged cases with the IPU Committee concerning allegations of excessive violence, arbitrary arrests, intimidation and criminal charges believed to be politically motivated. However, the mission will also address incidents involving the arrests and intimidation of other MPs in the past few days.
The decision to carry out the mission was adopted at IPU’s 127th Assembly in Quebec City last month in a series of resolutions recommended by the IPU Committee. At the time, the Committee also expressed deep concern at reports of renewed ill-treatment, detention and harassment of the MPs by law enforcement officers as well as shock at the killing of MP Afrasheem Ali in early October.
Maldives has been in political crisis since February when incumbent President Mohamed Nasheed was replaced by his Vice-President Mohamed Waheed. Since then, there has been growing international concern at the political intimidation and serious outbreaks of violence in the country.
A South African parliamentary expert on the IPU team will also be working with the Privileges Committee of the Maldives Parliament to finalize a draft Privileges Bill on which IPU has been providing technical advice. It would, when passed by parliament, provide more legal protection to MPs as they carry out their political and representational work.